Friday, January 08, 2010

How to Implement the Amendment in CrPC for FIR Immediately


This contribution has been made to serve a long awaited reform, for the benefit of common man and to minimize the corrupt and unethical practices at the very first stage of any criminal investigation and foundational level of the judicial process.

We propose here a way to implement most effectively the long awaited amendment in CrPC for FIR where common man, especially rural poor shall have, if administered, a very smooth way of registering his or her complaint, free from ongoing inherent malpractices. Moreover, it does not require any additional infrastructure other than already available with the Central Government.

Triggered by Ruchika Girhotra’s case**, "The country has finally woken up against injustice. It seems that Government of India has realized the need to register all crimes" and decided to issue a circular to states and union territories calling for mandatory registration of all complaints as FIRs. "To ensure that all complaints received at police stations are treated as FIRs." Fine, but any policy or directive, unless implemented properly, has no meaning. We have been having many directives and policies which are either forgotten by now or drowned in files.

There have been repeated complaints from the public that police are very often reluctant to register an FIR, at times to just show a lower crime rate in their jurisdiction, and at times to protect influential law-breakers. ‘With Ruchika’s case drawing harsh attention to the brutal miscarriage of justice and showing how police discretion in registering FIRs can throttle a family's righteous plea related issues.’ The Centre has decided to demand from heads of police stations “specific reason for registration or non-registration of a particular case after receiving complaints". On the question whether a complaint is "genuine" and point to limitations in manpower, Police will have to investigate it after registering the FIR"…"If the complaint is found to be false, police can always drop the FIR. But that should not be a deterrent in registering genuine complaints as FIR” http://bit.ly/7O3COh

With the facts that,
(a)    "Governments and police often show an artificial control of crime. This is also a source of corruption and crime as pointed by Ms. Kiran Bedi,
(b)   “The home ministry will have to work in tandem with states and judiciary or this will remain on paper."
(c)    Common man is highly scared from even the name of police and tends to avoid any interaction with situation is more horrible in rural areas,
(d)   Police avoids registering a FIR, “at times to just show a lower crime rate in their jurisdiction, and at times to protect influential law-breakers”.
(e)   Police avoids registering a FIR, as there is a shortage of police force and infrastructure.

Assuming that Government is really serious to amended CrPC for FIR and that it is not a  temporary political move to subside people’s resentment, a vital question which comes to mind  is how it can be implemented when, given the current situation, both the common man and registering body, i.e., Police, are averse to it, for reasons stated above?

Problem involves those belonging to both sides of the table. We must, therefore, devise some way to remove fear and hesitation of common man, and bypass aforesaid attitude of the police. The strategy proposed here not only overcomes these hurdles but also ensures quickest and most transparent submission of FIRs and above all, does not require any additional infrastructure other than available with the Central Government.


Objectives
We have to provide some channels
(1)   Where people could submit their complaints without any fear,
(2)  Deliberate avoidance by police is minimized to zero,
(3)  Centralized monitoring of submitted complaints is possible
(4)  Complete transparency could be maintained to prevent any injustice ,
(5)  Complete transparency to prevent misuse by  complainants,
(6)  Requiring no or minimum additional personnel and infrastructure,


Available Infrastructure:

Our prime points of focus are objects (1) and (2),i.e., people must have a seamless way to submit complaints and police must have a smooth way of maximizing their coverage with minimum of stages where they have been preventing  complaints from the people. 

The most convenient and effective means nowadays is Information and Communication Technology, but unfortunately we cannot rely entirely on it since it has not penetrated deep enough to serve rural common people yet. Yes we can use it as supplement. Surprisingly, there is an already existing department of the Central Government, with excellent track record, services of which can be availed and used effectively and conveniently. It is Department of Posts & Telegraph.

Before assessing its applicability to our problem, let us review a few of its services which it has initiated recently and are relevant to our problem.

(a)  One of these services is e-Post which enables one to send even a hand written page to the destination where there is no email or fax or any such facility. The NIC has also been implementing a WAN connecting all the Head Post Offices, Administrative Offices, Major Speed Post Centers with National Data Centre being connected to the WAN will ensure a quantum jump in the quality of services being provided by the Posts Offices. Today India has the largest postal network in the world and covers virtually the whole India with penetration to remotest villages. http://bit.ly/4qbR1V

(b)  There is another service which the department has initiated and which may have immediate application to object (5). Recently, India post (post office) has come up with a service of providing authentication certificate for addresses and photo identity. Since the ID proof is issued by India post which is a central government organization, it is similar to Govt. ID cards like Driving license, Voters ID etc. It can be used for opening bank accounts, for getting telephone/internet connections etc and can be used to authenticate complainant’s identity while placing a complaint/FIR. http://bit.ly/6jAO5W

Along with these, there is a way that Ministry of Home Affairs has been using for getting submitted the applications for passports. It uses online applications for passport, not as independent processing but only to assist submission only, rest processing is done by humans. The best part of it is that it assigns a serial number to the application stored centrally, and a date and time at which applicant has to visit in person to the office along with evidences. https://passport.gov.in/pms/Information.jsp


Suggested Strategy:

With this background, we are in position to chart out the strategy for implementing the long sought after amendment in CrPC for FIR.

(1) Submission of complaints/FIR may be allowed, in addition to the usual Police Stations, at post offices also with some suitable format to get it forwarded through their e-Post service to respective district Police Head Quarters for centralized database and for its centralized monitoring and for further forwarding to concerned police Station for investigation.

Process, like online application for passport by the Ministry of Home Affairs, should carry a centralized serial number and assign a time where complainant will have to be present with details at the police station.

It will take care of some very important hurdles:
a.      Common man is highly scared from even the name of police and tends to avoid any interaction with situation is more horrible in rural areas,
b.      Police avoids registering a FIR, “at times to just show a lower crime rate in their jurisdiction, and at times to protect influential law-breakers”.
c.       Police avoids registering a FIR, as there is a shortage of police force and infrastructure.

And to fulfill the objectives:
                                                              i.      Where people could submit their complaints without any fear,
                                                            ii.      Deliberate avoidance by police is minimized to zero,


(2) Assuring Genuineness of Complaints

(2.A)        Format should have information on Police Station code and identity and address of the complainant. It may be as usually accepted like Voter Identity Card, Driving License or any other acceptable to the government.

(2.B)        Common people, especially from rural areas, need not possess Voter Identity Card, Driving License or any other acceptable to the government as either these are not issued to them or issued but are incorrect or simply they are not having it for any reason being illiteracy, ignorance or poverty. Non availability of these must not bar any person from submitting his or her complaint,

In non availability of Identity and address proofs, Post Office Address and Identity Verification Service as mentioned above, can be availed by the Complainant for a fee to the Post Office.

Since the ID proof is issued by India post which is a central government organization, it is similar to Govt. ID cards like Driving license, Voters ID etc. and hence acceptable.

(2.C)       A suitable penalty may also be suggested for false complaints by the complainants.
This will fulfill the objectives:
(3)       Centralized monitoring of submitted complaints is possible
(4)       Complete transparency could be maintained to prevent any injustice,
(5)       Complete transparency to prevent misuse by complainants,
(6)       Requiring no or minimum additional personnel and infrastructure,

This contribution has been made to serve a long awaited reform, for the benefit of common man and to minimize the corrupt and unethical practices at the very first stage of any criminal investigation and foundational level of the judicial process.


*     Twitter: @drssdutt

4 comments:

BK Chowla said...

The day the Govt decides to show the political will,anything is possible.
It suits the politicians to use the police as their personal force,hence their reluctance in registration of crime.

sati shankar said...

Swamy39

@drssdutt @Swamy39 : There is no need for amendment. SC judgments already bind the govt. Chidambaram was blowing hot air signifying nothing.
7:26 AM Jan 9th from UberTwitter in reply to drssdutt

sati shankar said...

absurd

media feeding frenzy over, case RIP RT @drssdutt: can we see any +ve move by Govt after Ruchica or euphoria is ove? @Swamy39, @PritishNandy
3:34 PM Jan 10th from TweetDeck

sati shankar said...

Swamy39

@drssdutt @Swamy39 @PritishNandy : Present laws except enact a new TADA, will do if you elect decent politicians with a spine.
3:23 PM Jan 10th from UberTwitter in reply to drssdutt